"Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back."

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

Our main character is Honor, a ten year old girl who has recently relocated to island 365 with her parents, in a time described as "the eighteenth glorious year of the Enclosure." The island is one of the rare land areas that still remain after global warming and rising ocean levels have transformed the Earth into a virtual waterworld. The colony's residents are huddled under a shield intended to protect them from the dangers of Unpredictable weather.

As soon as Honor and her parents arrive on the island, they stick out and don't blend in with the rest of the colony as they are expected to. A representative of the local school finds Honor deficient in her knowledge of Earth Mother, the leader of the Corporation and the architect of Enclosure. She has trouble with her name, which, although starting with an H like all the approved names for children born in the eighth year of Enclosure, Honor sounds like an O name - because the H is silent - and therefore "sticks out."

At school, Honor continually gets into trouble for describing her experiences in the northern islands where she grew up, which don't match up with the approved version in her textbooks.

What is on the other side of the island? Who is the Forecaster? What will happen to Honor and her parents? What is so bad about Enclosure? Why are the rules so important?

Here is a quote from the book:

"The Flood destroyed the ancient world," Honor recited to the class. "Where there were continents, only islands are left. Where there were archipelagos, only mountainous islands remain. After the Flood, and the wars that followed, Earth Mother organized the Great Evacuation to the remaining islands in the Tranquil Sea. Then the Earth Mother rose up and spoke. 'What is freedom? What is choice? Words and only words. We need Safety. We need shelter from the elements. Without shelter all other words are meaningless.' Earth Mother pledged to Enclose the Polar Seas. She pledged to establish New Weather in the North and reclaim the islands there, one by one. Finally, she pledged to make a new world in the islands of the Tranquil Sea, islands she numbered and named the Colonies."

Here are the "four square" graffiti pages our group made about the novel half way through reading it:


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